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Congress

Today, just after the lunch hour, NASA launches the eighth version of Landsat. The earth-observing satellite will carry two instruments that will, among other things, measure water quality and quantity. NASA will cover the launch of the satellite live online. Liftoff is scheduled for 1:02 p.m. eastern standard time. Water Themes for Congress Federal spending […]

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The freshmen have been initiated, the committees settled and the staffs filled. Now comes the law making. Here’s the first batch of water-related bills in the 113th Congress: Harry Reid (D-Nevada) reintroduced the farm bill that the Senate passed in June 2012. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), the Senate Agriculture Committee chair, said that she would hold […]

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As part of the “fiscal cliff” package, Congress extended most of the provisions of the existing farm bill through September 30, 2013, which displeased almost everyone with a stake in the wide-ranging piece of legislation that addresses food stamps, biofuels research, crop insurance and conservation programs. Yesterday, President Obama signed a $US 9.7 billion aid […]

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The Supreme Court seemed ready on Tuesday to overturn a lower court’s ruling in a case about stormwater pollution in the Los Angeles area, the Associated Press reports. Environmental groups had prevailed in an appellate court in their attempt to lay responsibility for polluted runoff at the hands of the county flood control district. Carp […]

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Because of the scant days left in the legislative session, a bill to reauthorize a national drought information system will most likely not be acted on, Zachary Kurz, the communications director for the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology told Circle of Blue. The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) was created by Congress […]

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Sandy has brought new urgency to a water resources bill.

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USACE Sandy levee repair

Water utilities prepare for bigger storms and rising seas.

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A U.S. Department of Agriculture research branch published reports on the consequence to farm income of eliminating direct payments and on trends in nitrogen used for corn. One of the debate points for the farm bill is whether to reduce “direct” payments — cash given to farmers based on fixed per-acre rates. The federal government […]

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Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, introduced legislation that would set up a federal water infrastructure financing program modeled after a program that provides low-interest loans for transportation projects.The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) would give priority to water and wastewater projects of national or regional significance, covering a gap in existing federal […]

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Sandy, the hurricane turned mega-storm that battered the United States’ East Coast earlier this week, could cost insurers $US 5 billion to $US 10 billion, while economic losses are estimated anywhere between $US 10 billion and $US 20 billion, Reuters reported. The increasing cost of natural disasters could pressure Congress to take action on climate […]

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This week, Circle of Blue will publish a water guide to the 2012 election. It will explain the presidential candidates’ positions on water, as well as point out various state and local initiatives related to desalination, financing and water supply. Look for it in the next few days. (Update 10/31/12: 2012 Election Guide.) Storm Warning […]

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The Government Accountability Office recommends that the two federal agencies that run the three main assistance programs for rural water systems better coordinate their application requirements. This would save rural communities time and money, the GAO says. Water-Energy The GAO also evaluated federal progress on the connections between water and energy. Having written five reports […]

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Three years into its agency-wide water efficiency and conservation program, the Interior Department has given itself a gold star and a pat on the back in an assessment report released last week. Ordered by Congress and shaped by Secretary Ken Salazar, the WaterSMART program is on track to meet its top goal of conserving 730,000 […]

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Four decades ago, national leaders talked about our duty and responsibility to cut water pollution–and about its costs.

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Congress adjourned until after the November elections, leaving quite a bit of work on the table for a short lame-duck session. In addition to anticipated debates about fiscal policy, there are a few water-related bills that might be considered at year’s end. In a hearing last week, Senate committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she […]

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Sometime this week, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 3409, which its sponsor, an Ohio Republican, has dubbed the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012. The bill would prevent the Interior Department from issuing regulations until December 2013 that might cut jobs in the coal sector or restrict the industry’s access to […]

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The U.S. government spent US$734 million on water-related activities in fiscal year 2011, according to a State Department report. This represents a 23 percent drop from the previous year, when US$953 million was spent. Roughly one out of every two dollars in fiscal year 2011 was spent on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. The annual […]

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A federal judge ruled that the Tennessee Valley Authority, a utility owned by the U.S. government, is responsible for a spill in 2008 of toxic waste from a coal-fired power plant. The Associated Press reports that in the next phase of the case, the judge will determine compensation for each of the more than 800 […]

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Sewage is discharged in the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland, Ohio in this 1973 photograph. The Clean Water Act, passed a year earlier, has improved water quality in many water bodies, but some communities still struggle to control water pollution from combined sewer systems.

Local government officials and utility leaders ask U.S. Congress to invest in water projects and to provide regulatory flexibility. The framework is part of a broader debate about how to balance ecosystems, public health and financial constraints, in this, the 40th year of the Clean Water Act.

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earl-headshot

Revenue for the fund would come from taxes on containers and waste products.

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